Researchers warn tapirs are endangered in South America

  • Lowland tapirs once inhabited large parts of the Atlantic forests of South America. Today, the largest mammal in the region is threatened with extinction.
  • Tapirs can only be found in 1.78 percent of their native habitat in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
  • This is the result of a study published in the journal Neotropical Biology and Conservation.

While herbivores, which can weigh up to 250 kilograms, were once threatened by hunting and deforestation, the greatest danger now comes from under-breeding.

The study authors estimated the number of tapirs in 48 regions between 2,665 and 15,992. However, habitats are often so isolated that the animals cannot find a mate to mate with.

Legend:

Since the newly opened Pantanal at Zurich Zoo in March 2012, tapirs have a new enclosure.

Keystone / Archive

According to research, only 3 to 14 groups are demographically and genetically viable over the next 100 years.

13 months pregnant


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Tapirs reproduce slowly: females are 13 months pregnant and give birth to only one young at a time. There is often up to three years between two births.

“Our simulations show that for small groups, losing just one animal per year can lead to the rapid extinction of an entire local population,” explained study co-author Patricia Medici.

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